Picks of the Week
(PG-13, 118 minutes, Sony): Try to erase from your mind the first “Total Recall,” that campy, 1990 Paul Verhoeven blockbuster in which Arnold Schwarzenegger pays a company to implant Mars vacation memories in his brain.
While it may not be a fully realized take on Philip K. Dick’s 1966 forward-thinking story, it’s still a far better film than the Verhoeven version.
As Douglas Quaid, the role formerly occupied by Schwarzenegger, Colin Farrell displays an ever-evolving combination of bewilderment, terror and uber-confidence as a man with no idea how he learned to handle ammunition, yet capable of firing guns while doing an action-hero gymnastic routine. He brings realism to a hyper-real situation, something that eluded Schwarzenegger.
The futuristic gadgets get fresh, fun updates: cellphones that can be implanted in human hands; currency featuring President Obama’s face; and The Fall, a gravity-twisting, carnival-ride version of a transit system that stands as the film’s most compelling special-effects achievement. Still, this “Recall” has more than its share of flaws. Director Len Wiseman tosses in enough distracting lens flares to rival the frequent blue-light flashes in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek.”
Contains intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity and profane language. DVD extras: gag reel, “Total Recall Insight Mode,” “Science Fiction vs. Science Fact” featurette and a behind-the-scenes look at set production. Also, on Blu-ray: extended director’s cut, commentary by Wiseman, alternate ending, seven “Total Action” featurettes and “Stepping into Recall” pre-visualization sequences.
‘Trouble With the Curve’
(PG-13, 111 minutes, Warner Bros.): Clint Eastwood is perfectly suited to play Gus Lobel, a scout for the Atlanta Braves who is beginning to feel the effects of his years.
Gus has a strained relationship with his daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), whose mother died when she was 6. Gus isn’t a warm-and-fuzzy dad, which makes it all the tougher for Mickey to join him on a scouting expedition to North Carolina – purportedly to keep an eye on some health concerns, but also to make one more try at bonding with the father who keeps pushing her away.
By the time “Trouble With the Curve” reaches its dramatic – and contrived – third-act reveal, it resembles the kind of bland, pictures-of-people talking that all too often pass for movies these days. What promised to be a modest, refreshingly unforced little comedy turns out to be low energy to a fault.
Contains profanity, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking. Extras: behind-the-scenes featurette with Adams and her character’s love interest, Justin Timberlake. Also, on Blu-ray: “Rising Through the Ranks” featurette.
(PG-13, 112 minutes, Universal): This comedy about the world of competitive collegiate a cappella is as funny as it is infectiously toe-tapping; the movie has a giddy sense of exuberance and silliness, generated by teams of young adults vying against each other in cutthroat singing contests, where the only weapon is the unaccompanied human voice.
Mickey Rapkin’s 2008 book, which went behind the scenes at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, was the inspiration for screenwriter Kay Cannon, a writer and producer for “30 Rock.” Directed with brio by Broadway veteran Jason Moore, Cannon’s script combines elements of “Glee” with the plot and snark of “Bring It On.”
In the lead role of Beca, Anna Kendrick brings a healthy amount of amused detachment as a reluctant member of the all-female Bellas; she also has a great set of pipes on top of a fine sense of comedy.
And it’s a real pleasure to see Rebel Wilson in the first role to truly showcase her talents since “Bridesmaids.” As Beca’s fellow Bella Fat Amy – a character who co-opts her insulting nickname so that others won’t do it behind her back – Wilson shines. She’s large and in charge, as she should be.
Contains sexual humor, crude language and drug references. Extras: commentary with Moore; deleted and extended scenes; a showcase of funny one-liners; “Starships” music video; “Backstage at Barden” profiles and interviews with characters Benji and Bumper, behind-the-scenes footage with Fat Amy. WashingtonPost